Miles's experience of death and subsequent cryorevival have left him outwardly recovered, but actually suffering from seizures that he had kept quiet from his commanders in Imperial Security and his subordinates in the Dendarii Mercenaries.

When he blows the legs off a Barrayaran courier that he was supposed to be rescuing, things can't be hidden any longer either from his Dendarii colleagues or his Imperial Security commander, though he does try in that last case; lyi... er, being extremely succinct with the truth in his report.

However, he is caught out and dragged in to face The Boss himself who explained what the future was going to have been, then what now had to be. Enraged, Miles tears off his insignia and immediately throws a fit.

Quite literally!

A broken man, Miles returns to an empty mansion where he dedicates himself to starving himself to death.

Death is cheated at this second visit when Cousin Ivan turns up and freezes Miles out of his deep depression.

For a short while he is lost for things to do. Just messing about the house waiting for the next day to come. Occasionally dining out with the Emperor (well, he is the man's all-but-foster-brother!). Even this backfires when he introduces his former boss and his girl friend to The Man and Gregor is smitten with her and she with him! It does not take long for them to get to the point of engagement, enraging poor old Duv Galeni (that Galeni!).

But, when Simon Illyan, chief of ImpSec, The Man Who Can't Forget (there's a chip in his head to make sure), starts making mistakes it becomes clear that Something Is Up.

It's up to Miles and Cousin Ivan to search out the truth behind this strange breakdown.

This was my favourite book of the year when I bought it and even now, it is full of a dark humour that has to be read to be believed. Often painfully sad too at the same time.

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